Dancing House in Prague by architect Frank Gehry

Dancing House in Prague

The Dancing House is a non-standard building located in the central part of Prague near Reslova Street. Designed by architects Vlado Milunich and Frank Giri, the building from afar resembles two dancing ballerinas. And not without reason – after all, the main architectural idea was a parallel with the most famous dance couple of that time, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. “The Dancing House” caused controversy among designers and critics, but President Václav Havel had the last word and approved the interesting project.

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Video: Dancing House in Prague

General Information

The Dancing House in Prague consists of two towers – a freakishly curved one and a normal one. The normal tower symbolizes the masculine Yang in Chinese philosophy, and the curved tower represents the feminine Yin. According to the architects, the feminine overcomes the masculine to transform it. The curved, female tower was named Ginger, after the dancer Ginger Rogers, and the male tower was named Fred, after the dancer Fred Astaire.

Not all of the plans of the Dancing House creators, however, were realized. It was originally planned that this house would be a temple of culture, that it would be a library and an art gallery, but now in the “Dancing House” are the offices of various companies.

People of Prague have different opinions about the Dancing House, the majority (68 %, according to the polls) like this architectural marvel, which in their opinion perfectly fits the style of Prague – “the city of a hundred towers”, but there are those who are against the new-fangled house. Opponents say that next to the “Drunken House” are the classical sights of Prague, such as the National Theater and Prague Castle, with which the pretentious style of the house does not fit at all. Anyway, the Dancing House leaves no one indifferent.

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The history of the origin of the building is quite interesting. The house that previously stood on the site of the Dancing House was destroyed in January 1945, during an American air raid. For half a century the place was vacant, until Czech President Václav Havel intervened. The fact is that the house next to the destroyed one was built by the grandfather of the Czech president and had been the property of the Havel family before nationalization. It is now difficult to say whether this circumstance or another was the reason for starting the construction, but in any case, the Czech president decided to build another house on the vacant lot, designed by Vlado Miluni, a Czech architect with Croatian roots.

However, the insurance company that bought the land demanded that a famous Western architect take part in the project. Frank Gehry, the famous Canadian-American deconstructivist architect and Pritzker Prize winner, was chosen. The construction of the Drunken House was carried out between 1994 and 1996, under the personal supervision of Václav Havel. The main architectural idea of the building was an analogy with the famous dance duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, known as “Ginger and Fred”. Even a cursory glance at the building is enough to see this architectural intent. One of the two cylindrical parts, the one that expands upward, symbolizes the male figure (Fred), and the other part of the building visually resembles a female figure with a thin waist and a skirt fluttering in the dance (Ginger).

In 1994, construction began, in which the Croatian architect Vlado Milunic and the Canadian architect Frank Gehry took part. They created the “Dancing House” in the style of deconstructivism. The construction was finished in 1996 and caused a storm of dissatisfaction on the part of the citizens, because the Dancing House was built in a completely different style than the neighboring houses. But the controversy didn’t last long. Soon this Prague landmark was recognized as a “landmark of Prague”.

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The Dancing House from the Inside

There’s nothing supernatural inside the Drunken House: lots of offices, and a rooftop structure called the Medusa, which houses a rather expensive French restaurant and offers a panoramic view of Prague. High prices for food served at this restaurant can be explained probably by the desire of the managers working there to charge not only for the viands themselves but also for the beautiful, romantic views of the Czech capital which are opened to visitors of this restaurant. Here you can often see newlyweds celebrating their formal or symbolic wedding in the Czech capital. In the evening, you can step out onto the viewing platform, where it is fascinating to watch the unhurried flow of Prague life.

How to get there

The Dancing House is situated in Prague 2, on the corner of Resslova Street and the Embankment (on the corner of Resslova Street and Rasinovo nabrezni). If you walk from the Charles Bridge along the promenade, you can get there in 10-15 minutes.

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Everyone who is in Prague should definitely see this extravagant building. It is incredibly odd, fantastic and shocking for the local architecture, but Czech citizens are as proud of it as St. Vitus Cathedral or Charles Bridge, which, by the way, is located 15 minutes on foot. The house in question resembles a dancing couple: one part looks something like a woman in a flowing dress and the other like her male partner.

It feels as if the house is dancing. /Photo:planetofhotels.com

Residents of Prague call this building “Ginger and Fred”, “the drunken house”, but the nickname “The Dancing House” is the most common. After all, it seems that the building really dances. This effect is created by the curved walls, non-parallel windows, and broken lines. In addition, the two bodies of the building seem to stand on legs.

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Dancing House. A new and not typical attraction in Prague. /Photo:travel4us.ru

Fragment of the building. /Photo:travelask.ru

At the corner of the Vltava embankment and Reeslová Street, a strange building appeared relatively recently, in 1996. The initiator of its construction was Czech president Vaclav Havel, who, incidentally, lived nearby. The building was erected on the site of a demolished old half-destroyed house.

Legendary Hollywood dancers and actors are depicted very peculiar, but recognizable. /Photo:geo-review.com

Legendary Hollywood dancers and actors are portrayed very peculiarly, but recognizably. /Photo:geo-review.com

It is believed that it was the famous Hollywood creative couple Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire that inspired Croatian architect Vlado Milunic and his Canadian colleague Frank Owen Gehry for such an extravagant project. The tandem of internationally renowned architects has created a real miracle. The upwardly extending stone tower (one part of the building) with metallic “hair” has an obviously male silhouette, and the lighter and more airy-looking glass part clearly resembles a female figure.

The legendary creative tandem. Late 1940s. /Photo: inimg.com

On the roof of the Dancing House there is an observation deck, which offers a gorgeous view of the city. You can get to it directly from the restaurant, which is open at the top of the building.

The observation deck. /Photo:planetofhotels.com

There are also cafes, a bar, international offices, and a huge conference center in the Dancing House. Many of the interiors were designed by the popular British architect and designer Eva Jiřičná (who happens to be of Czech descent).

An unusual shot. /photo:planetofhotels.com

And three years ago, in an extravagant building, opened also a hotel – again with an appropriate name “Dancing House Hotel”. Its two upper suites, the Ginger Royal Suite and the Fred Royal Suite, are especially popular with tourists, as are the other suites, which offer the same luxurious view.

This is the kind of beauty you can see from the observation deck. /Photo:planetofhotels.com

The deconstructivist house was initially hailed by locals as too different from traditional Prague buildings. What can I say, the view of the Dancing House is really crazy.

At first, the locals, of course, were shocked. /Photo: pixabay.com

But the guests who came to Prague, came to admire this building, so that the residents of the capital willy-nilly had to accept this new attraction, and now they are proud to show it to tourists.

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The dancing house is incredibly strange and a must-see for visitors to the city. /Photo:pixabay.com

The Dancing House was even included in the top five best buildings constructed in the 1990s according to the Czech magazine Architekt and became the winner of the prestigious international competition iF design awards.

Text: Anna Belova

There’s also the Dancing Forest on our planet. You can see it on the Curonian Spit.

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